Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,875 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've usually had trouble learning and memorizing tunes, or so I thought. I know a decent number of tunes but not as many as I should. But this past week I kind of came to a realization. It's not so much that I can't learn or memorize a new tune, it's more that I can't improvise on it the way I would like to. In some way, that makes me think that I don't know the tune when I actually don't have a problem recalling the melody or harmony. It's more a problem with needing to learn more vocabulary than needing to work more on learning the changes to a particular song. So, now that I know this, I think it will be easier to learn tunes and refocus more energy on improv vocabulary.

I just wanted to make a thread in case anyone else was kind of going through the same think. Maybe you don't have as much a problem learning tunes as you think you do.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,295 Posts
Personally, I like to incorporate vocabularly into learning a new tune. For every new tune I like to develop an idea or approach, tailor it to the changes and begin expanding the vocabulary. This helps me to understand the harmonic balance in a more melodic manner. Instead of chord scales I've been approaching the chord tones and extensions (sure, extensions collapse into the scale, but it's a harmonic thing now). This let's me work with "springboard" approaches that help propel my musical ideas.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
29,519 Posts
I know, every tune has its own personality, requires a particular treatment which goes beyond scales, chords, etc.
 

·
The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum
Joined
·
27,650 Posts
Clayton, this might be fundamental to you, but are you aware of the commonality to many tunes? This is one way of increasing a repertoire without seeming to memorise each tune independently.

For those who don't know what I mean, Jerry Coker has a great book out titled "Hearing the Changes".
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,313 Posts
Hearing the changes comes with years of playing tunes that you do know all the time learning new tunes to build a repertoire. Over a long period of time the tunes' common harmonic relationships kind of get programmed into your musical memory.

One thing essential to this process is that you wean yourself from the printed page. If you depend on lead sheets to tell you the notes and changes for every tune, you impede your ability to assimilate the harmonic lesson that each tune teaches. Start with the sheet and get away from it as soon as possible.

Reading a book (or a discussion group thread) can explain this process to you, which is valuable knowledge and can suggest shortcuts, but it can't teach it to you. It's a right brain thing, which you learn only by doing.

Ideally, you don't think about chord changes in their formal notation (chord names or note clusters on a staff) as you play. You hear that sound that is the chord progression within its current context and relate that sound to your familiarity with the instrument.

You will be told that it takes a lot of work. I disagree. If you are going to do it right, it takes a lot of play. If it's work, you won't do it. Or you will do it reluctantly and your right brain will reject it, refusing to assimilate what you need to remember.

The work is found in learning those things that make you familiar and facile with your instrument. Scales, exercises, etc. All the rest is play, or perhaps a better way to say it, a labor of love. If you don't find it to be so, then you are not destined to do it.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
Joined
·
5,552 Posts
I really have to break down a tune into 4 bar segments and go over the changes by rote or I have a real problem remember it. My Ah Ha is that what I considered enough to get a segment, lick, or something new was just scratching the surface so I'm taking any mistake I make or something new and going over it at least 5 or 6 times what I'm used to. That has had the added benefit of improving my technique. My fingers are getting glued to the keys like they were in college and I'm thinking/playing faster. But its all about focus. I'll get alot done and then my mind turns off and thats when its time to put the horn down. I'm excited, I might actually "get " this horn by the time I'm 60? K
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,450 Posts
As Mel Martin first taught me to do I listen to as many versions by good classic singers as I can find. I sing the song as much as I can and that helps a huge amount to lock it in.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
29,519 Posts
Kritavi said:
As Mel Martin first taught me to do I listen to as many versions by good classic singers as I can find. I sing the song as much as I can and that helps a huge amount to lock it in.
Yes, cross-referencing a tune can give me ideas and show me much about theory, different ways and chords to play the same tune.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top